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National Day Rally 2018: Live Updates And Commentary

Latest updates and commentary from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally 2018 as it happens.

 

The National Day Rally 2018

The National Day Rally is the annual address delivered by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, setting out the government’s views of happenings in Singapore and around the world, and its priorities and policies in response to opportunities and challenges of today and the future.

This year’s National Day Rally 2018 will take place on 19 August 2018 at 8.15pm. It will be broadcast ‘live’ on Mediacorp TV channels and radio, as well as online on the Prime Minister’s Office YouTube channel and PM Lee’s Facebook page.

Related Readings

In a video message released on Friday, 17 August 2018, PM Lee said that for National Day Rally 2018, he will be “talking about things that are on people’s minds – cost of living, water and electricity prices, medical costs, housing“.

Here are some relevant articles on DollarsAndSense about the topics that he highlighted.

Cost Of Living:

Here’s How Much Prices Of Everyday Goods And Services Changed In The Past 20 Years

Looking For A Pay Raise in 2018? Here Are 5 Questions You Need To Seriously Ask Yourself First

The DollarsAndSense Podcast Episode #1: What Is Retirement, Anyway?

Water And Electricity Prices:

Thinking Of Switching To An Electricity Retailer? Here Is What You First Need To Know

Open Electricity Market Cheatsheet: How To Choose The Electricity Plan That Best Suits Your Needs

Medical Costs:

Singapore’s Ageing Population: The Financial Implications Of Our Country Growing Old

Singapore’s Healthcare Outcomes Are Among The Best In The World. Why Is The Government Still Planning To Spend More?

Housing:

What The Latest Round Of Cooling Measures For Singapore’s Property Market Means For Investors

En-Bloc Fever: How Much Longer Will It Go On?

National Day Rally 2018 Liveblog

8:10pm: After delivering his National Day Rally 2018 speech in Malay and Mandarin, PM Lee will be delivering his address in English shortly. Stay tuned!

An Uncertain World

8:20pm: “We have had a busy year, at home and internationally.” PM Lee spoke about the historic Kim-Trump Summit that was held in Singapore earlier this year. He then went on to talk the international trade tensions. “There are no winners in a trade war.” And small, globally exposed countries like Singapore are most vulnerable.

8:22pm: There is no guarantee that the existing international system will hold, whether new systems will emerge, or whether tensions will persist.

8:23pm: In an uncertain world, ASEAN is especially important, including our two largest neighbours: Malaysia and Indonesia. PM Lee hopes that the good relations and friendship will continue.

8:24pm: PM Lee talks about the recent developments in Malaysia after the recent election. PM Lee is no stranger to Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir, but there is concern about some of the decisions regarding bilateral projects.

8:26pm: The HSR project has legally-binding obligations on both sides. The water issue too, is sacrosanct to Singapore. This is why Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Balakrishnan recently made a statement on this issue.

8:27pm: Singapore and Malaysia have longstanding bonds of kinship, shared history and geography.

8:28pm: Singapore enterprises, including SMEs, have been working to improve productivity and lay a strong basis for Singapore’s growth.

8:28pm: In his Mandarin speech, PM Lee spoke about the pressures that add to the cost of living. Housing, Education and Healthcare are key areas that the government will focus.

8:29pm: Last year, PM Lee already spoke about pre-school education. This year, he will focus on Healthcare and Housing.

On Healthcare

8:30pm: Singaporeans are spending more on healthcare. Partly because of advancement of technology, but mostly because we are living longer. The government has been heavily subsidising hospitalisation, as well as long-term care.

8:32pm: New initiatives have been made to better support healthcare costs. First, Medishield to Medishield Life. No lifetime claims limits and higher payouts. Second, Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) which subsidises visits to the General Practitioners.

8:34pm: CHAS will be expanded to support all Singaporeans with chronic conditions, regardless of income. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will make announcements in time to come.

8:36pm: Many older Singaporeans struggle to perform the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). MOH has revamped ElderShield significantly, into the new CareShield Life. It gives peace of mind, which all of us need.

8:39pm: PM Lee said that when one is young, its hard to imagine growing old. But once you grow old and realise how fragile you are, it might be hard to get insurance at affordable premiums. CareShield Life can benefit all Singaporeans, since at one point or another, it is likely that we will require some form of long-term care.  “If [CareShield Life] is offered to you, I hope you will take it up.” PM Lee also assured all Singaporeans that no one will be denied healthcare even if they cannot afford it.

8:40pm: PM Lee speaks about the Pioneer Generation and those who came after them, and the struggles they went through in Singapore’s formative years.

8:44pm: Those who are born in the 1950s are the “Merdeka Generation”. There are 500,000 Singaporeans who belong to this generation, including PM Lee. They made sacrifices. They were the first batch called up for National Service. The women came out to work to support their families. Everyone started working at a time when wages were low. Together with the Pioneer Generation, the Merdeka Generation worked to build Singapore.

8:46pm: As education improved year after year, each cohort earned more and saved more. Most of the Merdeka Generation are in their 60s today. Many have the same concerns as the Pioneer Generation. PM Lee announced that the government will work out a Merdeka Generation package, to help them meet their medical expenses. Many of the benefits are similar as the Pioneer Generation Package, such as Medisave top-ups. This is a way of showing them appreciation.

On Housing

8:49pm: Aside from Healthcare, Singaporeans are also concerned about Housing. Its not an easy issue – we want prices to be low when we buy, and high when we sell. In Singapore, most young people can afford to buy their first home – unlike many other big cities in the world. Singaporeans can pay for the downpayment with monies from their CPF.

8:51pm: 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing. Its not just for the poor. In Singapore, you can say that public housing is national housing. This is intentional and by design thanks to our founding fathers, who wanted Singaporeans to have a stake in Singapore’s growing economy and future.

8:53pm: Even the poorest segment of Singaporeans have $200,000 of wealth in their HDB, after deducting mortgage obligations. As long as our economy grows, the value of our HDB flat will go up. Perhaps today not as much as the earlier years, but still significant, nonetheless.

8:54pm: Should HDB leases be longer than 99-years? PM Lee says that 99 years is a long time. Once you retire, your HDB still would have a lease of about 60 more years. PM Lee says, that is enough for you to continue to live in it, rent it out, sell it, lease buyback to the HDB, or give it to your children.

8:56pm: What about resale flats? The oldest HDB flats are now about 52 years. HDB estimates that perhaps only 2% of people might outlive their HDB flats. But even if you need to return your flat to HDB at the end of 99 years, HDB can help you get alternative housing, either a new flat with a fresh lease, or flexi flats.

8:59pm: There is a very good reason why HDB leases are 99 years – to be fair to future generations. This is to ensure that our descendants have a chance to buy a new BTO of their own. Imagine if it were freehold: we will run out of land, and those who are lucky can pass their property to their children, while those who don’t, will not be able to buy a flat. This will be divisive to our society.

9:00pm: Practical reason why flats are 99-years: maintenance and structural. Building new flats after the lease expires will ensure that Singapore progresses, with new building concepts, materials, designs. In the meantime, HDB continues to run upgrading programmes to ensure that for the duration of the lifespan of your HDB estate, things run well.

9:02pm: Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is heavily subsidised by the government, up to 90% of the cost. So some homeowners pay only a few hundred dollars.

9:05pm: HIP will be extended to flats built in 1997 and earlier. After HIP, flats will be good for another 30 years. The government does not want older public housing to degenerate. So there will be plans for another HIP (dubbed HIP 2) when HDB flats are 60 to 70 years old. This will require a large financial commitment. The first HIP will cost around $4 billion. The second HIP will be more costly, since the flats would be older by then. But it is worth doing, and Singapore will do it.

9:08pm: HIP is great for those who wish to continue to stay. But how about those who want to sell: Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS)? In some cases, it makes sense for the government to do so, to unlock greater value for everyone.

9:10pm: More flats will have the chance to be redeveloped before their leases expire in future. In the early years of Singapore, many housing estates were built with great haste. Their leases will expire in a short span of time, and soon, entire estates will be massive construction sites. It makes more sense to deliberately renew these estates progressively.

9:14pm: Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS). Residents can vote if they want their estate to be taken over, just like how HIP is conducted.  This is a long-term plan, perhaps not implemented in the next 20 years. But the planning will start now. The government will help Singaporeans whose flats are taken over sooner than their leases.

9:15pm: PM Lee recaps his pointers on Housing: expanded HIP, HIP 2, VERS.

On The Future

9:16pm: (VIDEO: Drone flypast video of Punggol estate)

9:18pm: What was envisioned for Punggol 10 years ago is now a reality. This will continue into the future. Today, many things are being developed: such as moving of Paya Lebar air base, Bidadari estate, Changi, and more.

9:19pm: PM Lee: “We will never be done building Singapore.” Many of these schemes will stretch beyond 50 years, spanning many general elections, requiring heavy commitments. Very few countries can plan so far, to anticipate needs and opportunities.

9:21pm: Plans might change, since no one can anticipate everything that will happen in the future. But we know what we need. Thriving economy, sound government finances. Maintain political stability and outstanding leadership. Most importantly, to stay one united people. We cannot just satisfy material needs, but our social fabric.

9:24pm: PM Lee highlights outstanding Singaporeans and their achievements – a sneaker designer, a researcher, start-up entrepreneurs, a documentary photographer, a popiah seller who inherited his family business, and a composer-conductor. We rejoice in their successes – they show the world that in Singapore, passion can indeed be made possible.

9:27pm: 100 years from now, Singapore can stand out as a place of boundless opportunities. Where those who have done well, contributed back to society to help others do better. We might be a small country, but we should have big hearts. PM Lee urged Singaporeans to stand up and make Singapore such a place.

9:30pm: National Day Rally 2018 concludes. Thank you very much!

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